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Cancer. 1984 Feb 1;53(3 Suppl):815-9.

The whys of cancer quackery.


The nation appears to have weathered the laetrile phenomenon. In just having passed through the greatest episode of quackery in our history, it would be appropriate to reflect on the whys of quackery: Why do some promote it? Why do so many use it? Why should the medical profession care? Using the laetrile experience as a model, the author attempts to deal with these fundamental questions, and tries in particular to sort out which factors were unique to laetrile and which factors have always been associated with quack promotions and are likely to continue. When a successful quack promotion is analyzed, a complex interplay of failures on the part of physicians and the public is observed, and the triumphs of the promoters are recognized. Finally, it is necessary to deal with the issue of the responsibility of the individual physician and of the profession in general in coping with an unsound, antiscientific medical therapeutic.

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